TripAdvisor® announced the results of its second annual vacation rentals survey of more than 1,400 U.S. travelers. Forty percent of respondents said they are planning a vacation rental stay in 2011, indicating that rental homes are poised for a busy year ahead. Thirty-three percent of travelers said they stayed in a vacation rental in 2010.

“With an increased interest in vacation rentals on TripAdvisor and a similar trend shown in our survey, it’s shaping up to be another strong year of growth for rentals,” said Hank Hudepohl, director of vacation rentals at TripAdvisor. “For travelers staying with larger groups in 2011, a vacation rental is a great option to consider for its home-like amenities and affordable pricing compared to hotels.”

Grab Your Beach Umbrellas

Summer projects to be the most popular season for vacation rental stays in 2011, with 52 percent of U.S. travelers planning a rental home stay during the warmer months. In addition, 47 percent of respondents are planning to stay in beachfront villas, making them the most popular vacation rental type for 2011. The most popular U.S. region for rental stays in 2011 is the Southeast (31 percent) according to the survey. This was followed by the Southwest and the Northwest, which came in second and third, respectively.

There’s No Place Like (Rental) Home

When asked what travelers liked the most about vacation rentals as a lodging option:

    * 28 percent cited more space
    * 23 percent of travelers enjoyed having access to a full kitchen
    * 13 percent liked that rentals were often less expensive than hotels

In addition, 41 percent of respondents said vacation rentals were the best option for a trip when staying in a destination for a week or more, while 33 percent thought they were the best option when staying with a large group.

Early Bird Catches the Worm

Twenty-nine percent of travelers either always or often stay in the same rental year after year. Of the travelers who stayed in a vacation rental in the past:

    * 22 percent booked their rental home more than six months prior to the trip
    * 34 percent of travelers booked their rentals between three and six months out
    * 22 percent booked between one and three months out
    * 2 percent of travelers booked their vacation rental less than one month out

Let’s Make a Deal (Over a Hotel Stay)

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they would choose to stay in a vacation rental over a hotel if it were significantly less expensive. In addition, 80 percent of travelers would book a last minute vacation rental stay if they found a great deal.

Living the Life

If travelers had their pick of luxury vacation rental features:

* 51 percent would choose a rental home with a private beach
* 12 percent would choose a rental home with maid service
* 9 percent would choose a rental home with a hot tub
* 8 percent would choose a rental home with a personal chef

Let’s Get Together, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

According to the survey, 36 percent of travelers who have rented in the past have stayed in a vacation rental for a milestone life event, such as a wedding, birthday or reunion.

Fight For Your Vacation Rental Rights

With New York City poised to impose a ban on short-term vacation rental stays in 2011, the topic is sure to be top of mind for travelers visiting the city this year. According to the survey, 92 percent of respondents don’t think cities should limit travelers’ access to short-term vacation rental stays.

Know Before You Go

When deciding between different rental properties, the key influences cited by respondents are:

* Photos of the home (42 percent)
* Traveler reviews (27 percent)
* Cost of staying at the properties (13 percent)

Over the Internet and Through the Grapevine

Most travelers find out about vacation rental properties on the Web, both on vacation rental property websites (70 percent) and online travel websites (55 percent). In addition, 25 percent of respondents find out about particular homes by word of mouth from friends and family.

Still Room to Grow

When travelers who hadn’t stayed at a vacation rental in the past were asked why not:

    * 22 percent said they simply had not thought of staying at a rental home for a trip
    * 14 percent said they had a better idea of what they were getting when staying at a hotel
    * 12 percent thought hotels had better amenities than vacation rentals

When asked what would make them consider staying at a rental home in the future, most respondents (30 percent) went with their wallets and cited lower prices than hotels.

“Great deals can be found even for vacation rentals with remarkable amenities including private pools, full kitchens and spacious common areas,” said Hudepohl. “Read the traveler reviews and book early so you don’t miss out on the best properties.”